...or how to create enjoyable museum visits for your kids
When I decided to write a blog post about children and museum visits, I instinctively opened my google photo account and searched for ‘museum’, ‘gallery’ and ‘art’.
I was surprised and delighted at how many photos turned up! Half of them were actually photos of my children’s drawings - truly pieces of art (well spotted Google ;)!
The other half were photos taken in galleries and museums all over the world.
We (my partner, our two daughters (5 and 2) and I) travel a fair bit and due to my professional background and upbringing we visit as many museums and artsy places as we can.
I’m deeply in love with museums. Museums are places of knowledge and enjoyment. The latter is also part of the official definition of a museum by the way.
I consider museums and galleries as extended playgrounds without an age limit, except that they come with some special rules. As we know, kids like rules. If they make sense.
“Please don’t touch the artwork or the paint will come off and that would make the artist sad.” - fact. It might take a bit of practice and repetition in telling them but kids are very smart and eager to learn.
Are you wondering a) why you should visit a museum at all and b) if you need to have a clue about art*? The answers is: a) because it’s fun and b) no, you don’t!
Kids don’t need to understand art. It’s not a requirement to enjoy it. And that counts for everyone.
It’s all about emotions. Life would be boring without them, even if they are not necessarily positive ones. Things we see affect us, move us and stimulate us. Whether at home, outdoors or in a museum.
Have a chat
Museum exhibits of any kind challenge us, spark a discussion, and raise questions. Children only need a small impetus to join this dialogue.
Ask questions and engage your children to make up stories about the artwork.
“What mood was the artist in when he was working on this painting?”
“What did she have for lunch and what did she do on her lunch break?”
Why do you think the artist chose the colour blue for the tree?“
“Do you think the artist was thinking of something or someone special while he was painting?”
“Where did he paint? At home, in the garden?”
“What do you like most about this artwork? And why? Is there anything you don’t like about it?”
You can also swap the question game and let your kids become the game master ;)
There will be an incredible number of brilliant questions (in addition to the day-to-day ones ;)!
Ready, set - stuck
Kids relate most of the things they absorb from their environment to their own life.
Often my older daughter asks me questions days after our art excursion about what she had seen. Totally out of context for me, but not for her. It might be a person she saw who looked familiar to someone in a painting or a specific colour she spotted again on one of her dresses or even a similar feeling she came across.
You will be surprised how much impact half an hour of creative input will have on your children. And how many amazing conversations you are going to face.
Give it a try!
Choose an exhibition, find a good time slot and enjoy!
Finally a few important things:
Don’t forget to feed your little ones before you enter.
And visit the bathroom, just in case.
Ah one more - please tell them not to touch anything, of course.
*If you want to get to know the artist, his intentions and artwork you can read all about it. No worries if not. I sometimes google a bit prior to our museum visit and tell the kids a few interesting things about the exhibition. It actually shortens the tram ride to the city ;)